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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 19 January 2021

The UN wants "significant measures" after North Korea launches a rocket into space

US Ambassador Samantha Power stressed that fresh sanctions should “break new ground.”

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE UN SECURITY Council strongly condemned North Korea’s rocket launch and agreed to move quickly to impose new sanctions that will punish Pyongyang for “these dangerous and serious violations.”

With backing from China, Pyongyang’s ally, the council again called for “significant measures” during an emergency meeting held after North Korea said it had put a satellite into orbit with a rocket launch.

The launch, which violated multiple UN resolutions, was widely seen as an act of open defiance just weeks after Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test.

“What is at stake after this inadmissible provocation is the future of the international non-proliferation regime,” said France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre.

“This is why weakness is simply not an option,” he said.

A draft sanctions resolution prepared by Japan, South Korea and the United States has been in negotiations for weeks, but Beijing has been reluctant to back measures that would take aim at North Korea’s already weak economy.

South Korea Lunar New Year South Korean children Park Yeon-hee and Park Yeon-jung, centre right, bow to pay to respect for their ancestors in North Korea, in front of the barbed wire fence as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea Source: AP/Press Association Images

The 15-member council said it would “adopt expeditiously” the draft text, but there was no indication that China would yield to calls for tougher measures.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said there should be “a new resolution that will do the work of reducing tensions, of working toward denuclearisation, of maintaining peace and stability, and of encouraging a negotiated solution.”

China can use its veto power to block any UN resolution that would significantly scale up sanctions by, for instance, barring North Korean ships from ports or restricting oil deliveries.

US Ambassador Samantha Power stressed that fresh sanctions should “break new ground.”

“There cannot be business as usual after two successive acts,” she told reporters.

“China calls for more dialogue. What we need is no longer dialogue but using the pressure,” said Japan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Motohide Yoshikawa.

While the United States turned up the pressure to reach agreement on sanctions, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin warned: “We should not be looking at an economic collapse of DPRK (North Korea).”

While infuriated by North Korea’s refusal to curb its nuclear ambitions, China’s overriding concern is avoiding a collapse of the regime in Pyongyang and the possibility of a US-allied unified Korea on its border.

- © AFP, 2016

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